Barcelona broke a 38-year-old La Liga record on Saturday as they extended their unbeaten streak in Spain’s top flight to 39 games by beating Valencia 2-1 at the Camp Nou.
Luis Suarez opened the scoring with 15 minutes on the clock before Samuel Umtiti doubled the lead early in the second half as Barca bounced back from their Champions League exit at the hands of Roma.
Uruguay forward Suarez met Philippe Coutinho’s flicked ball behind the defence with a sharp finish for his 23rd league goal of the season. Coutinho was again the provider when his 51st-minute corner was headed home at the near post by Umtiti.
Daniel Parejo pulled a goal for the visitors from the penalty spot in the closing moments, but that couldn’t stop Barca sealing a win that stretches their lead over Atletico Madrid at the top of the table to 14 points.
As a result, Barca set a new league high for consecutive games without defeat, breaking a record which had been held by Real Sociedad since 1980.
La Real’s run, spread over two seasons, was ended by Sevilla on the penultimate day of the 1979-80 campaign and ultimately cost them the league title to Real Madrid.
Barca’s previous best unbeaten run in La Liga was 31 games, set when Pep Guardiola was the coach in the 2010-11 season.
Madrid’s longest-ever streak, meanwhile, was also 31 matches. Coached by Leo Beenhakker at the time, Los Blancos set their personal best in 1989.
Valverde will hope the record can go some way to healing the wounds picked up on Tuesday when Barca threw away a three-goal first leg lead as they crashed out of the Champions League to Roma.
The Catalan side are still on track to win a domestic double, though, as they sit top of La Liga and face Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final next weekend.
Their current unbeaten run started last April when Luis Enrique’s side beat Real Sociedad 3-2 having lost the week before against Malaga.
Barca went on to end the season with seven straight wins, narrowly missing out on the title to Madrid before Valverde replaced Luis Enrique in the summer.
Under Valverde, Barca are yet to taste defeat in 32 league matches and are now just six games away from becoming the first ever La Liga side to go through a whole campaign unbeaten.
However, while a seventh league title in 10 years now looks a formality, they still have some work to do if they want to end the season unbeaten.
They travel to Celta Vigo on Tuesday, where they lost 4-3 and 4-1 in each of the last two seasons. Barca also still have to play Deportivo La Coruna, Villarreal, Levante and Real Sociedad.
Valverde’s side also still have to play Real Madrid again, too, with Zinedine Zidane’s team due at Camp Nou on May 6.